Deep South millennials prefer Biden to Trump, new study shows

For the 2020 presidential election, younger voters trend blue even in deeply red states like Alabama and Mississippi, according to a new survey.

The new data on candidate preferences come from SurveyMonkey-Tableau, in partnership with news website Axios and could spell trouble in the future for the Republican Party, showing Gen Z and millennial voters embracing candidate Joe Biden in the upcoming presidential election.

Young voters’ preference across the South for the Democratic presidential candidate could have lasting ramifications, said Jon Cohen, chief research officer at SurveyMonkey.

“The political environments that surround young adults’ first voting experiences tend to stick with them for decades,” he said. “Aside from vote choice in the election, the percentage of 18-to-24-year-old Alabama voters who identify with the Democratic Party (40%) is nearing the number who see themselves as closer to the GOP (46%).

“That’s a huge contrast to the 28% Democrat/63% Republican split among seniors in the state,” he said.

According to the data, likely voters ages 18 to 34 plan to vote for President Donald Trump over Joe Biden in only five states – none of which are in the deep South.

In Alabama, for example, while 60% of the state overall embraces Trump, 52% of likely voters ages 25-34 say they plan to vote for Biden.

In Mississippi, the generation gap is wider. The majority of likely voters ages 18 to 44 prefer Biden, including an overwhelming 64% of voters age 18-24. Overall, however, Mississippi leans 61% toward Trump.

Louisiana and Tennessee follow similar trends, with younger voters 18 to 34 going for Biden by double-digit percentage points while the states overall lean heavily Trump.

In tossup states like Georgia and Florida, Biden has a clear lead among voters ages 18 to 34, while older adults lean Trump by smaller margins than in the rest of the South’s red states.

Historically, younger voters typically do not turn out in numbers like their older counterparts. In the 2016 election, more than 70% of seniors over age 65 turned out to vote, compared with just 47% of voters 18 to 29, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In 2018, however, millennials did outvote their elders in a midterm election that gave Democrats control of the U.S. House, a Pew study found.

There are also indications that the 2020 election could turn out voters in historic numbers, including younger voters. A recent poll from Harvard’s Kennedy School found 63% of respondents ages 18 to 29 said they would “definitely be voting,” compared with 47% during the same time prior to the 2016 presidential election.

And while young white voters still prefer Trump compared to young Black voters in states like Alabama, the gap is narrower than it is among older voters, Cohen said.

In Alabama, “nearly two-thirds of White voters ages 18-34 back Trump, a sweeping result, but still less than the 75% of older White voters who do the same,” said Cohen.

The only five states in the nation where Trump keeps a clear lead among younger voters are Wyoming, South Dakota, Arkansas, Idaho and West Virginia, according to media outlet Axios, which sponsored the survey.

The data points for the study came from 640,328 likely voters surveyed across the United States from June-October 2020.

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